Spring into Wildflower Art: Nature Journals

THIS WEEK’S ARTY-FACT

Trout lilies are one of the first wildflowers to bloom after a long Northeast winter. Showing courage and gumption like true New Englanders, they sprout just as the ground begins to warm, before the trees leaf out and shade the areas where the delicate plants put down their roots. Artist Wesley Fleming crafted this remarkable specimen and other wildflowers by heating thin rods of glass over a torch, pulling and twisting the molten glass to mimic nature’s palette and forms.

You can get a glimpse of Wesley creating a piece and see where he finds his inspiration in this video.

TRY THIS AT HOME

Spring brings sap, buds, and bees! Now’s the time to capture the rapid changes of the season by starting your own nature journal. 

If you have a sketchbook or a blank (unlined) journal already, you can use that. If not, you can make your own! Fold a piece of paper in half and then in half again to create four boxes. You will need one page for each day of nature journaling. You can keep them together in a folder or binder.

Now, pick a special spot in your yard or neighborhood that you can visit daily. You want to be able to check in and record the changes regularly, so mark the area by tying a piece of string or ribbon to a nearby branch. No trees around? Make a little flag with a stick and ribbon and plant it into the ground to mark your special spot. 

Once a day or once a week, go to the same spot, make yourself comfortable, and observe the changes that have taken place. Record in one of the boxes what you see, hear, and smell. Use these prompts to jump-start your thinking and fill the other three boxes:

I notice…

I wonder…

This reminds me of…

Date each page, and you can refer back to your observations to see if spring springs at a different time next year!

As things start to sprout, measure and record the growth. You’re an artist and a scientist and maybe even a poet! Any bugs in view? They’re just waking up, too, and looking for food. Make notes or draw what you see. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to write a poem!

Here’s a poem by Mary Oliver about trout lilies like the ones Wes has made:

Trout Lilies
by Mary Oliver

It happened I couldn’t find in all my books
more than a picture and a few words concerning
the trout lily,
so I shut my eyes,
And let the darkness come in
and roll me back.
The old creek

began to sing in my ears
as it rolled along, like the hair of spring,
and the young girl I used to be
heard it also,

as she came swinging into the woods,
truant from everything as usual
except the clear globe of the day, and its
beautiful details.

Then she stopped,
where the first trout lilies of the year
had sprung from the ground
with their spotted bodies
and their six-antlered bright faces,
and their many red tongues.

If she spoke to them, I don’t remember what she said,
and if they kindly answered, it’s a gift that can’t be broken
by giving it away.
All I know is, there was a light that lingered, for hours,
under her eyelids – that made a difference
when she went back to a difficult house, at the end of the day.

 

While the Museum is closed, you can visit Wes Fleming’s six exquisite glass creations of wildflowers  in our Flickr Gallery. Be on the lookout for these beautiful blooms in the forests and fields near you: yellow star grass, trout lily, raspberry cane, pink lady’s slipper, hepatica, and northern starflower!